Ferguson Penfield Seiberling, 1866-1946
Penfield Seiberling, benevolent supporter of the arts, gave unselfishly
of her time, talents and resources to better the people of her community,
Ohio and the nation.
Born on January
23, 1866, Seiberling-then Penfield-grew up in Willoughby, Ohio, where
her father owned a leading manufacturing company. When she was 21, she
graduated from Lasell Seminary for Young Women in Auburndale, Mass.
Later that year, she was introduced to Franklin Augustus Seiberling
and the couple married.
After her marriage,
Seiberling came to Akron with her husband. Never one to miss an opportunity,
Seiberling helped supplement the family income by giving singing lessons
to young girls.
Because of her love
of music, Seiberling became a charter member of the Tuesday Afternoon
Club, which was later renamed the Tuesday Musical Club (T.M.C.). F.A.
Seiberling was once quoted as jokingly saying the T.M.C. meant "Trouble
Must Come." Because of the group's dedication and skill, performance
requests came from all over the city.
an important part in bringing renowned performers and orchestras to
Akron by helping to organize and finance these activities. Also active
in theater, Seiberling performed at the Akron Opera House and demonstrated
her golden contralto voice at the White House for President William
Howard Taft. She founded the St. Cecelia Choral Society and was a frequently
featured vocalist for the Christmas services at Trinity Lutheran Church
in Akron, where she was a member.
It was during this
time that her husband co-founded the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
with his brother, C. W. Seiberling. As her husband's business prospered
at the turn of the century, Seiberling enrolled at Buchtel College to
study architecture, gardening and interior design so she would be able
to assist in building the new family home. After extensive travel abroad
to gather design ideas and materials, the Seiberlings returned to Akron
to build Stan Hywet, a beautiful 100-room, 1,400-acre estate patterned
after an English Tudor-style mansion.
Even with the daunting
task of raising her large family, Seiberling's interest in the arts
continued. She became honorary president of the Tuesday Musical Club,
served on the board of directors for the Cleveland Institute of Music
and was an honorary member of the Philadelphia Music Club and the Westminster
Choir of Dayton, Ohio. She held honorary memberships in the National
Federation of Music Clubs and the Music Arts Association in Cleveland.
Seiberling was a
gifted and talented artist as well and exhibited paintings in New York
and Ohio. She held memberships in the Women's Art League of Akron, the
Akron Art Institute, now known as the Akron Art Museum, and the National
Association of Women Painters and Sculptors.
and served as the first president of the Akron Garden Club in 1924,
and held board positions on state and national garden clubs as well.
She was active in the Peace Society and the Ohio Women's Suffrage Association.
on Jan. 8, 1946. Because of her unfailing support of the arts and tremendous
cultural contribution to Summit County, the Women's History Project
elected her "Woman of the Year" posthumously in 1993. At her
death, the Beacon Journal reported that she was "a gracious
matron and an outstanding musical enthusiast
[who] inspired in
every way to make the world about her a better place."
Photo courtesy Women's
History Project of the Arkon Area